Exhaled Aerosol Fingerprinting for Early Detection of Respiratory Obstructive Diseases and Lung Cancer

J. Xi
California Baptist University,
United States

Keywords: smart diagnosis of lung diseases, early lung cancer detection, small airway diseases, exhaled aerosol fingerprinting, prognosis


Exhaled breath and aerosols contain a wealth of information about health of the lungs, which telltales either the cell metabolisms or the airway architecture. Time series of exhaled aerosol from a human can be captured and analyzed to detect the location and severity of the lung diseases. This new breath test device is small in size, noninvasive in nature, easy to use, and less expensive. These allow frequent testing and earlier detection of subtle lesions in either upper respiratory tract or deep lungs. The breath test consists of five steps: 1. Generation of colorimetric chemical-sensitive aerosols. 2. Inhalation: Depending on the locations of suspected lung cancer, specified inhalation maneuver will be excised so that the inhaled aerosols reach the cancer site. This will be followed by a breath-holding so that the inhaled aerosols (cancer detectives) could have sufficient time to react with the VOCs. 3. Exhalation: The exhaled aerosol distributions will be captured by a filter, giving rise to an aerosol fingerprint. This fingerprint will be compared to the one with normal airways. A large difference between these two indicates carcinogens at the region of interest (ROI). 4. Aerosol samples can be further analyzed by gas chromatography and compared to the lung cancer database. Using the Numerical Inverse Method (NIM) developed in our lab, the site and stage of the lung cancer can retrieved. 5. The breath test can be performed periodically. A time series of aerosol fingerprints tells the development of the lung cancer, or the outcome of cancer treatments. This new technique is promising in detecting lung cancers at their early stages. This is significant because lung cancer is the leading causes of cancer-related mortality in the world but develops silently until it become incurable. In the U.S., lung cancer leads to more deaths than colon, breast and pancreatic cancer combined. The ability to detect the cancer as early as possible will be crucial in curing lung cancer patients.